Enhancing the effects of extinction on attention-maintained behavior through noncontingent delivery of attention or stimuli identified via a competing stimulus assessment

Wayne W. Fisher, Iser G. DeLeon, Vanessa Rodriguez-Catter, Kris M. Keeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


Recent research has shown that the noncontingent delivery of competing stimuli can effectively reduce rates of destructive behavior maintained by social-positive reinforcement, even when the contingency for destructive behavior remains intact. It may be useful, therefore, to have a systematic means for predicting which reinforcers do and do not compete successfully with the reinforcer that is maintaining destructive behavior. In the present study, we conducted a brief competing stimulus assessment in which noncontingent access to a variety of tangible stimuli (one toy per trial) was superimposed on a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of attention for destructive behavior for individuals whose behavior was found to be reinforced by attention during a functional analysis. Tangible stimuli that resulted in the lowest rates of destructive behavior and highest percentages of engagement during the competing stimulus assessment were subsequently used in a noncontingent tangible items plus extinction treatment package and were compared to noncontingent attention plus extinction and extinction alone. Results indicated that both treatments resulted in greater reductions in the target behavior than did extinction alone and suggested that the competing stimulus assessment may be helpful in predicting stimuli that can enhance the effects of extinction when noncontingent attention is unavailable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004



  • Attention-maintained problem behavior
  • Competing stimuli
  • Extinction
  • Functional analysis
  • Noncontingent reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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